For many high school and college students, an internship is that first foot in the door. These positions are the first time many of these youth work in the real world and they are an ideal place to start to make connections into the career field of their choice.
It seems for some youth in Toronto; a local internship program may also give students a glimpse into discrimination on the job as they are not allowed to apply based on one shocking requirement. A recent City Council action in Toronto authorized the creation of an internship program only available for Muslim youth.
On October 31, the local City Clerk released a document entitled “Authorization of Agreement To Fund a Youth Fellowship Internship Program in Councillors’ Offices.” This paper outlined the start of a program that allows only youth access to a program that puts them into direct contact with City Council members. This is the type of internship many youth wishing to go into civil service or politics would find to be highly desirable.
Even though the declaration was dated at the end of October, these new positions join a program that is already in progress. The document outlined 13 new part-time jobs for youth that have become a part of the program ran by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and DawaNet.
The Urban Alliance on Race Relations is an organization that seems to focus on the racism of all kinds, and it is not clear how supporting efforts to shut out youth access to internships based on religion further this cause. According to their website, their mission is as follows:
“Addressing inequality in our society is critical. We work primarily and proactively with the community, public and private sectors to provide educational programs and research through our non-profit charitable organization known as the Urban Alliance.”
While this organization is not focused just on the population, the partnership with DawaNet seems to be where therequirement came into play. DawaNet is a Toronto based company that claims to serve as a network and voice for the 400,000 Muslims in the area. There is no push for diversity in DawaNet, the mission there is apparently to further their cause in the community.
The new internship will give 13 lucky youth access to the inner workings of the City Council that others may not see. While most programs of this caliber become highly competitive, this may not be the case here as many of the local youth are not even allowed access.
Supervision for the program will come from the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and not directly from DawaNet. It seems DawaNet will be more of a silent partner as they are also not paying for the salaries. The program will be funded by the Alliance to the tune of $22,000. An additional $10,000 will come from City Clerk via the office of Social Development, Finance, and Administration.
The $32,000 price tag will give the
A local news source in Toronto made several posts about the issues with this new program. Their most recent post expressed a scary reality when only certain youth are given access to programs like this. Their message was simple:
“Where is the program for Jews? Christians? Hindus? Government internships for Muslims and Muslims only. This is the very definition of sharia law, special superior rights for a “superior” class.”
Is Toronto moving closer to a new level of sharia law where Muslims are given opportunities no one else is? One has to wonder what many of the youth are learning from this program as most are denied access to it. It does not seem logical to include a program that allows applicants to be screened based on their religion to come to work in the City Clerk’s office. It also does not seem to make much sense to try to improve the diversity within the office by excluding anyone different.
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